Monday, August 31

Changing Art Gears

Last Day of Summer
Acrylic on 140-lb Paper
12 x 9 in/30.5 x 22.9 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Today being the unofficial "last" day of summer (in the northern hemisphere), I am feeling a hint of change in the air. It's not a change in the weather per se, although the light is noticeably different than it was even a month ago

 It's still warm (OK, hot) and still very much shorts-and-flip-flops weather, but there is a haziness in the atmosphere that sets in this time of year that portends the coming of autumn. It also makes it a good time for painting.

It's rather like changing gears to a different speed, and that's also what I'm feeling about my artwork--a changing of art gears yet again.

By gears, I mean several things:

- my painting interests

- my willingness to experiment again after a period of ennui

- my medium

- my palette (even if it's only a tweak)

- my outlook

I am one who thinks change is good, especially for a painter. It's about the only way I know to be able to see if progress is being made at all.

If you agree, fine; if not, then I hope you are truly satisfied with the status quo.

Happy Painting.

Tuesday, August 25

My 6 Opinions on Painting Landscapes

A Day in the Hill Country
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
20 x 16 in/50.8 x 40.6 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion about what makes a painting "good." I am no different.

I like to paint landscapes of all kinds, and I have my own opinions about what makes a "good" landscape painting.

If you aren't interested in my opinions or what I have to say about anything, really, please stop reading and avoid the aggravation.

However, if you would like to compare your ideas with mine, here are 6 opinions for what makes a landscape painting "good:"

- If a horizon line is visible, then place it either higher or lower but not dead center.

- Know where the focal point is or is going to be and emphasize it and de-emphasize other elements; that is, if a tree is the focal point, don't make the clouds/sky so busy they compete (and vice versa)

- Use some natural element to draw in the viewer and lead them around the painting--a stream, a path, a tree branch, a cloud deck, a rock formation, etc.

- Put in a contrast of light and dark values in the fore- or mid-ground; even on overcast days there can be shadows; even if you don't see a lot of contrast either in person or a photo, then contrive it.

- Make the background recede by pushing it back visually using light blue washes or tints (even if it's your focal point); also by not having any sharp edges in this area.

- Stick to a limited palette, but depending on the type of landscape, mix colors that are natural for the scene; for example, if my painting in today's image had been a desert scene, I would have used more yellow and ochre rather than greens.

Happy painting!

Monday, August 10

Staying Motivated (with another Little Gem)

Lantana Dr.@ Beach Rd. 1
Oil on Canvas Panel
7 x 5 in/17.8 x 12.5 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
The August Dog Days are here. At 100+ degrees F (37.7+ C) this weekend and only getting hotter this week at 104 degrees F (40 degrees C), it's hard to get motivated to do anything, not to mention painting.

Whew, it's hot!

I decided one way to stay motivated would be to paint a beach scene. It's way too hot to do a lot of painting or to  paint a large painting. So I decided to paint another Little Gem at just 7 x 5 in (17.8 x 12.7 cm), which I blogged about recently.

It's today's image, which was painted from a reference photo taken on vacation (holiday) on the Texas coast a few years ago. I attempted to catch the hazy, hot sunshine beating down at midday

Hope you like it. It reminds me of summer and one way to cool off. Especially in this heat.

Tuesday, August 4

To Change and Grow as a Painter

Golden Field
Acrylic on Canvas Panel
10 x 8 in/25.4 x 20.3 cm
Copyright Byrne Smith 2015
I believe my recent run with water soluble oils may have run its course for now. For the last 6 months to a year I have been painting almost exclusively with water soluble oil paint.

Prior to that it was mostly acrylics, and before that it was watercolor, and before that it was....

But last week as I was exploring my "new" limited palette of: ultramarine blue, cad. yellow light (and/or pale), alizarin crimson (and or cad red light), burnt umber, and the ubiquitous titanium white, I wanted to to retrieve these acrylic colors from my paint bin.

So I did.

Like old friends who hadn't seen each other in a good while, we made up for lost time. It was good to feel the easy, buttery strokes of acrylic paint with my flats on the canvas panel.

I think I see a pattern here. Artists and painters should not get stale.They need change. They need growth. I'm finding that as I paint with different mediums, I am challenged and learn new ways to deliver the paint.

So when I revert to an old comfortable friend--this time acrylics--my work doesn't look the same as when I painted with it before. It's different and, what do you know, it's better. At least I think so.

Isn't that what all painters want? To change and grow.